Justified disinfection – The experts’ point of view

Based on these risks, more and more epidemiologists, doctors, microbiologists and hygienists are recommending that the use of disinfectants in certain sectors be minimized or even eliminated.

—  Health Canada: “The industry produces and markets disinfectants for hands and surfaces, resulting in the frequent and unnecessary use of products that contain antimicrobials.» «…overuse of antibacterial cleaning products in the home, the community and in health care facilities may lead to increased development of resistance in common microorganisms.» (Health Canada 2003)

—  CDC – Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Most, if not all, housekeeping surfaces need to be cleaned only with soap and water or a detergent/disinfectant, depending on the nature of the surface and the type and degree of contamination” “…but the actual physical removal of microorganisms and soil by wiping or scrubbing is probably as important, if not more so, than any antimicrobial effect of the cleaning agent used.” “Studies have demonstrated that disinfection of floors offers no advantage over regular detergent/water cleaning and has minimal or no impact on the occurrence of health-care associated infections.” (Carenco, 2017; CDC, 2019)

 —  U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. To date, the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap haven’t been proven. In addition, the wide use of these products over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health.” “Wash your hands with plain soap and water. That’s still one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs.” (FDA, 2019)

—  European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR): “The frequency of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria has increased in concert
with increasing usage of antimicrobial compounds.” “…selective stress exerted by biocides may favour bacteria expressing resistance mechanisms…that could create a potential risk of development of cross-resistance between antibiotics and biocides.” “In order to preserve the role of biocides in infection control and hygiene, it is paramount to prevent the emergence of bacterial resistance and cross-resistance through their appropriate and prudent use.” (European Commission, 2009)

 —  European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: “Use of antimicrobials…exerts an ecological pressure on microorganisms and contributes to emergence and selection of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms in populations…” “…management, control and prevention of antimicrobial resistance [includes] prudent use of antimicrobials.” (ECDC, 2008)

—  David Suzuki Foundation: “…there is no evidence that antibacterial products do a better job than conventional soap in a home. The overuse of antibacterial ingredients like triclosan contributes to the creation of superbugs. Our obsession with germs could therefore make us sick.» (Coulter & Therrien, 2020)

• In summary, there are only 2 situations where it is justified to disinfect:

  • .If you are ready to comply with the 3 application conditions required to ensure effective disinfection (listed above).
  •  When there is a real risk of disease transmission or infection via a critical area or surface (e.g. a door handle, faucet, pay phone, etc. – not walls and floors).
    Besides these 2 situations, there is no beneficial reason to try to disinfect surface

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